Walden’s Winter Coat

Walden is frozen …. It is December 29 and I open an email to find the three words staring at me …. a sad face emoticon following them. One of the group of twenty odd ‘Ponders’ reporting his findings back to those who have not visited lately.



Actually, I am not surprised. Although two days earlier I had visited and had been. As I glanced across the pond from the ramp, carefully treading on the crunched up snow and ice so as not to slip, I saw her glazed-over stare at me. The divide between the movement of water and her dazed glassy stillness. It almost seemed like someone had drawn a line across her long axis, just the way I would divide her to swim from shore to shore only a few months back, turning half of her into winter and leaving half of her to contemplate becoming winter…

I did not return the following day, but that night time temperature plummeted into single digits, perhaps even scraped zero, so I knew the freeze would have taken her over further. And then Friday as I slowed my car when driving past, the line that zigged and zagged across her clearly delineated the two-phased-freeze… as if the line had been etched in ice with a knife.

When I did step onto the ice on Saturday, already a four inch thick layer had formed between the fine dusting of snow that covered it and the water beneath. Amazing that so quickly the pond had turned from a swimming hole (I know of a couple of my swimming friends had done Christmas day swims) to an ice skating rink! Little wonder no one was paying any attention to the lonely “unsafe ice” signs that stood upon the beach with the unopened emergency packs strapped to their poles. More of Walden’s visitors were walking on the pond than around it on the snowy Saturday afternoon!


I stand on the ice remembering back to the time when I lay down and beat my fists on it, over ten years ago now. In those days I felt that somehow winter was my adversary and had robbed me of the thing I wanted most.. the swimming hole that pulled me through the tough times and gave me a sense of my strength and power. I still don’t enjoy winter and now am even less able physically to manage its extremes….

In some ways 2017 has also been a difficult year navigating financial difficulties and a re-triggering of those wounds from divorcing ten plus years ago, but on Friday, as I drove past and glanced at the frozen pond, the first thought that came to me was that Walden’s icy cover had not let me down by closing me out, but that her icing over was somehow  protecting her…. I smiled to myself as I turned and looked back toward the road.


As the year comes to an end, I reflect on what a wonderful season of swimming I have had… perhaps the best swimming I remember… from those first icy dips over Easter weekend to the extended Fall when swimming was like skating across the pond.

I swam for more months than I have in years.

I hope the winter won’t be as extended as Fall, nor do I hope it is as extreme as it is now, but I am grateful for what Walden has given me this past year.


And I know, that even though walking on her icy cover, or around her snowy shores, is neither as fulfilling or as easy on my spine as swimming is, it will pull me through the silence of winter as I quietly contemplate the Spring and Summer ahead.


I wish you all a happy healthy and peaceful new year … and may you find your place of quiet contemplation as I have mine … ❤ Liz



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